homework assignment ideas

How to deal with references in research papers: formatting hints

Proper citations are essential for producing quality academic writing that cannot be considered plagiarized. There are many formatting types to choose from including MLA, Chicago style and APA so it’s understandable that some confusion may arise in the beginning. Regardless of style, there are a few key points that you will need to cover.


Ensure that you include the correctly spelled name of the author whose work you are referencing in your writing. Some pieces of work will have several authors. In most styles it is permissible to include the entire name of the first author followed by “et al” which will be understood to refer to all of the co-authors. This saves time and space.

The work being referred to

The author or authors you have referenced are likely to have created several studies or books that could possibly be used in your research. To avoid confusion, put the name of the book into the citation. If several editions of it were also produced, include the number of the particular edition you used for reference. This is helpful in cases where significant changes to the content of the book were gradually made.

The year it was produced

In some parts of your research paper, it is possible to just include the author’s surname and the date the referenced piece of work was published. All of this would be put between brackets right after a direct quote or reference was made within the research paper.


The name of the publisher and the publisher’s address can also be included in the citations. In cases where the piece of work being referenced is not a book or journal but a website, the style can change subtly. The full name of the website would be included along with the name of the contributing author and the date it was first made public.

The various formatting styles for academic writing have rules that can be difficult to understand but there is a wealth of information available online on how to apply them. There are even templates that can be downloaded that will allow you to put in the information relevant to your study right into the labeled fields and automatically format your work for you. With these options available you can easily include references and create a paper you can proudly submit.

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